The frozen realm of Antarctica is located at the southern tip of the planet. It is the fifth-largest continent globally, covering more than 14,000,000 km2. It lies almost entirely within the Antarctic Circle. This means that temperatures remain below zero for most of the year.
These conditions can make life difficult compared to other parts of the world. However, the Antarctic animals who live in this landscape are well-adapted to the extreme conditions encountered by scientists and explorers stationed there. It is one of the fascinating places on Earth, even though it may appear desolate to untrained observers.
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15 Amazing facts about Antarctica
1. Antarctica’s Dry Valleys are the driest places on Earth. Because of this low humidity and moisture, snow and ice can’t accumulate on Antarctica’s southernmost portion. The valleys are essentially dusty patches of dirt.
2. Antarctica has, on average, the windiest area on Earth. Scientists who have been exploring the southerly landmass reported wind speeds of up to 200 miles an hour.
3. It is the single largest mass of ice on the planet and can sometimes reach up to four miles thick. The entire continent contains approximately 90 percent of Earth’s freshwater and 70 percent of all Earth’s freshwater.
4. Scientists believe that if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was to melt, it would raise global ocean levels by approximately 16 feet.
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5 The Ross Ice Shelf, a floating tongue made of ice that extends from the continent’s main island, covers more than 510,000 km2 and is the biggest ice shelf ever discovered.
6. Although Antarctica is covered with ice, it holds one of the largest mountain ranges in the world, the Gamburtsev Mountains. These mountains stretch over 1200 km. These highest peaks can be found at around 2,800m, which is about one-third of Mount Everest’s height.
7. Another fascinating geographic feature is Lake Vostok. This freshwater lake lies under 4 km of frozen water. This lake is approximately the same size as Lake Ontario, and it is one of over 200 bodies of water discovered under the ice.
8. Although the Grand Canyon is widely considered the world’s largest natural rift, scientists found another trench in Antarctica that could be as powerful as one of America’s most iconic natural features. The canyon, which was discovered during a 2010 expedition, extends 100 km and is more than 9 kilometers wide. It also reaches depths greater than 1,6 km. Scientists believe it may be larger, but more exploration is needed to determine the extent of this huge rift.
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9. Antarctica houses Mount Erebus, the most active volcano in South America. It also contains the only “lava lakes” that have been known to hold liquid magma for centuries despite the cold climate.
10 There are 30 countries with 80 research stations located around the continent—these facilities house approximately 4,000 people during the summer and just 1,000 during the long, cold winters.
11. Emile Marco Palma was the first person born in Antarctica in January 1979. Since his historic passage through its birth canal, only ten people have been born in Antarctica.
12. There is no sunrise from the vernal and autumnal equinoxes due to Antarctica’s tilt. This means that the continent remains completely dark for the winter season.
13. In contrast, the sun doesn’t set in Antarctica during the summer months, so it receives more sunlight than the equator.
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14 In March 2000, a chunk of ice broke off Ross Ice Shelf. It was approximately the same size as Connecticut at 270 km in length and 40km wide.
15. Deep Lake Antarctica is so salty that it can’t freeze even at temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius